- Birth Date: 22 Jul 1923
- Birth Place: Delhi
Mukesh Chandra Mathur was born in a small middle class family in Delhi. He was interested in acting and singing right from childhood and was a great fan and admirer of Kundan Lal Saigal. In spite of the fact that he only studied till the 10th grade (metric exam), he was able to obtain a good job as an assistant surveyor in the department of public works, where he worked for seven months.
In 1940, Mukesh had recorded secretly some non filmi songs in Delhi . Then, Mukesh was bitten by the Bombay bug like scores of other young people before and after him. He arrived in Bombay with the hope of becoming a movie star. He stayed with his relative the famous actor Motilal.
His debut as a singer came in the film 'Nirdosh'. The song was "dil hi bujha hua ho to...". Then in 1944 he followed with a duet with singer Kusum for the film 'Us paar'.
The song was "Jara boli ri ho...". In 1945 he sang with Khursheed "Badariya baras gayi us paar..." for the film 'Murti'. By this time he had established a small place for himself in the hearts of his audience. In 1945, Anil Biswas asked him to record a song for the film 'Pehli Nazar'. The raag was darbari and the song "dil jalta hai to jalne de..." was a huge hit, popular to this day. Mukesh had arrived. By 1948, the streets of the sub continent were humming with his songs from Aag, Anokhi Ada, Mela, Veena and Vidya.
In 1949, came another mile-stone in his life. In the studios of the great actor Prithviraj Kapoor there were two young musicians Shanker and Jaikishen. The young Raj Kapoor asked them to provide music for his own films. Shanker-Jaikishen asked Mukesh to sing for them and for ever afterwards, Mukesh would be Raj Kapoor's singing voice. Films like Aawara and Shree 420 spread the voice of Mukesh all the way to Russia where in the streets of Moscow you could hear people singing "aawara hoon..." and "mera joota hai japani...".
With Motilal's help, Mukesh got a role as an actor in the film Years later, he was to act again in Raj Kapoor’s Aah in 1953. However fate had other plans for him.He was best known for his singing talent.
It was under Naushad with Mela (1948) and particularly Andaaz (1949), that Mukesh finally discovered his own style. Andaaz (1949) was a major triumph for Mukesh. All his four solos were raging hits - Tu Kahe Agar, Jhoom Jhoom ke Naacho Aaj, Hum Aaj Kahin Dil Kho Baite, Toote na Dil Toote na. It is interesting to note that though Mukesh in later years was regarded as the voice of Raj Kapoor, in Andaaz, Mukesh's songs went on Dilip Kumar while Mohd. Rafi sang for Raj Kapoor.
The partnership with Raj Kapoor started with Aag (1948) where Raj's feelings of despondency and despair were vividly caught by Mukesh in Ram Ganguly's composition Zinda Hoon Is Tarah, and ended with R.D. Burman's Ek Din Bik Jaayega in the film Dharam Karam (1975). In its course was an endless list of hits. Among them are the evergreen songs of Awaara (1951), Shri 420 (1955), Parvarish (1958), Anadi (1959), Sangam (1964), Mera Naam Joker (1970).
However life was not always that easy and smooth. Following Awaara's success, Mukesh almost ruined himself when he sidelined his singing career to pursue acting - to try and make it as a singing star. Mashuqa (1953) with Suraiyaand Anuraag (1956) with Usha Kiron both sank at the box-office. (He also did a small role as a tangewala enacting his own song - Choti si Zindagani in Aah (1953))
Wizened by the ordeal, Mukesh returned to playback singing only to find that offers had dried up. The situation reached a point that his children Nitin and Ritu were turned out of school as they were unable to pay their fees.
It was finally with Yeh Mera Deewanapan Hai from Yahudi (1958), that Mukesh finally came back with a bang. Other hits that year like Madhumati, Parvarish and Phir Subah Hogi meant there was no turning back. Even S.D. Burman who had not utilized Mukesh's services for over a decade composed those two masterpieces for him - Chal ri Sajni from Bombay ka Babu (1960) and O Jaanewaale Ho Sake To Laut ke Aana from Bandini (1963).
Mukesh thereafter flourished right through the 1960s and mid 1970s with soulful hits like Main to Ek Khwab Hoon (Himalay ki God Mein (1965)), Jeena Yahaan Marna Yahaan (Mera Naam Joker), Maine Tere Liye hi Saat Rang ke Sanpne Chune (Anand (1970)), Main na Bhoolonga (Roti, Kapda Aur Makan (1974)) and of course Main Pal do Pal ka Shayar Hoon and Kabhi Kabhie (Kabhi Kabhie (1976)).
Mukesh worked with several music directors, lyricists, co-singers and was the on-screen voice for several actors - notably, Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar. Mukesh also acted in a few films like Mashooqa and Anurag, appeared in a cameo role as the kochavan in Aah, and composed the music for a handful of films which he produced.Among the other recent music directors for whom Mukesh sang a good number of his songs were Laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji, Salil Choudhary, Usha Khanna, R.D. Burman, and S.D. Burman. Another music director to have used Mukesh’s voice well was Khaiyyam. The lyrics of Sahir Ludhianvi, Khaiyyam’s music and Mukesh’s voice created magic in the film Kabhi Kabhie.
His last recorced song was Chanchal, Sheetal, Nirmal, Komal from Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978). He died on 27th August 1976, of a sudden heart attack in Detroit, while on a concert tour of the U.S.